I brought my son to the Shepherdstown Library to return a book today and got into a conversation with one of the volunteer librarians. She happened to recognize me as a friend of her husband with whom we used to commute to work on the MARC Brunswick Line. Her husband got off in Gaithersburg to catch a bus to Montgomery College where he worked. I continued all the way to DC. We knew each other because we always got on together at the Duffields Train Station in Duffields, West Virginia.
Having stopped commuting on the train several years ago I had lost touch with many of the riders but we would occasionally run into each other at events on holidays. This morning I had the heartbreaking news to learn of his passing last September. It was truly a shock for me as I had wonderful memories of riding close to 3 hours daily with Steve.
Below is an obituary of Steve. Before posting it I want to add a story of my own in memory of my friend.
For anyone who commuted on the Brunswick Line through the years are used to horror stories on the line, especially for those of us who passed Brunswick, Maryland and would go onto West Virginia stops. There were many a time that the trains would break down in either direction, stopping between stops with broken hydraulics after hitting deer. (West Virginia is famous not only for cars hitting deer, but also trains hitting deer) There were a number of occasions when the train broke down in upper Montgomery County and we would have to get off the train far from a platform which entailed talents of mountain climbers to maneuver off the train and along the rocky paths near the tracks until we would get to a flatter area to stand or remain until help arrived.
I remember Steve sharing at least one of these harrowing experiences on one commute. I remember him helping others down from the train once he had gotten off. He never complained, at least not nearly as much as I would, as to how convenient it was. For those of you who knew Steve you knew that he walked with a cane (occasionally not) due to his condition after growing up with Polio. No matter how frustrating the rest of us got on any given day, Steve was always smiles and cheered the rest of us up.
Although my train days are over, I will sorely miss the opportunity to run into him at events in Shepherdstown.
Steven Alan Lietz (December 13, 1952 – September 1, 2012)
Steven Alan Lietz, 59, of Shepherdstown, WV passed away on Saturday, September 1, 2012.
Steve was a Professor and Academic Counselor at Montgomery College in Rockville, Maryland. He earned a Bachelor of Science Degree from Towson State University, a Master of Education Degree from Salisbury State University and a Doctorate of Education from Wilmington College. He was devoted to his wife and students with many interests and a heroic history. Steve was an avid Harley Davidson rider, gardener, environmentalist, artist and music lover. As a boy he survived polio and went on to become an elite athlete. He competed as a wheelchair athlete on the U.S. Team for the Disabled at the World Games in Assen, Holland in 1990 and on the U.S. Team at the Pan Am Games for the Disabled in Caracas, Venezuala in 1990 where he broke a world record in short distance track. In 1994 he represented the U.S. at the Paralympic Games in Berlin, Germany. Steve raced nationally in multiple marathons and mid distance events and won the Marine Corps Marathon’s Wheelchair Division in 1997.
In addition to his parents, he is survived by his wife, Frances Elizabeth Brolle of Shepherdstown, WV; his son, Steven Harris and wife, Alisa of Canaan, NH, 10 grandchildren, four brothers, Donald Lietz of Princess Anne, MD; Robert Lietz of Levittown, PA; Paul Lietz of St. Augustine, FL and Craig Lietz of Toms River, NJ.
A celebration of life service will be held at 4:00 pm on Friday, September 7, 2012 at the Eackles-Spencer & Norton Funeral Home, 256 Halltown Road, Harpers Ferry/Charles Town, WV with Daniel Oravec officiating.
The family will receive friends at the funeral home from 2-4 pm before the service.
In lieu of flowers, memorial contributions may be made to Shepherdstown Public Library, earmark new library project, P.O. Box 278, Shepherdstown, WV 25443.